St. Martins Press
This series strays from my preferred Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy genre, but it's absolutely hilarious and completely entertaining.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter. Sort of. She tries to be one anyway, though she's fairly inept at it. She has full custody of a hamster named Rex, partial custody of a dog with a eating disorder named Bob, an on again off again relationship with sexy Trenton, NJ cop Joe Morelli, and a family that is 100% certifiable. Not to mention a sometimes partner named Lula, former ho (her words, not mine) and now full time file clerk at Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. And then there's Ranger. Ranger is everything a bounty hunter should be. He dresses in all black, owns and runs Rangeman security, and is the ultimate mysterious bad boy. He also sometimes fills the "off again" spot in Stephanie and Morelli's relationship.
This installment of the Plum series opens with Stephanie's cousin Vinnie going missing (he also happens to own Vincent Plum Bail Bonds). Stephanie, Lula and their co-worker Connie decide to hunt for him more to ensure they still have jobs than to secure Vinnie's well being. Vinnie is a shameless womanizer and his sexual preferences don't always come to a halt at the species line (there was once a notable incident with a duck, but no one speaks of it). Aside from being a sexual deviant, Vinnie also happens to be a bit of a gambler, and has run up $786,000 in debt to a notorious invidividual named Bobby Sunflower.
Thus, Stephanie and team decide a rescue attempt might be easier than coming up with the money. Stephanie and Lula drive all around Trenton looking for any places Bobby might have stashed Vinnie. I should mention that utterly ridiculous things tend to happen to Stephanie and Lula. Stephanie's cars often meet a fiery end, they get shot at by everyone, garbage and other interesting substances find a way of landing on their heads, and they often have run-ins with a variety of furry creatures. Their search for Vinnie puts them in many such amusing situations.
Eventually, they find Vinne, only to lose him again less than 24 hours later. Turns out that Vinnie's gambling debt has more far reaching repurcussions than anyone originally thought and Stephanie, Lula, and Connie find themselves neck deep in quite a bit of trouble.
I love this series, and this installment is particularly good. Sometimes these novels can get a bit jumbled and weighed down with large numbers of secondary characters. In addition to the main plot, Stephanie often goes hunting other FTAs (failure to appear) and we get introduced to a lot of names that come and go quickly, and it's not always easy to keep characters straight.
Ms. Evanovich sticks to the main plot more closely this time and doesn't introduce quite so many side characters, so it's much easier and more interesting to follow along. Stephanie and Lula are hilarious as always. Lula is forever trying out a new and absurd diet (this time is the "eat only one" diet. Lula interprets this diet to mean eat only one of everything). And Stephanie's Grandma Mazur is up to her typical antics at funeral home viewings. She winds up with a broken foot and has to wear a boot. This is a very bad situation all around:
"'I feel gimpy in this boot,' Grandma said. 'And my butt cheeks don't match up. One feels higher than the other. I can't squeeze to keep the breezers in.'
'We'll keep the windows open on the way home,' Lula said."
Stephanie and Morelli are currently in the "off" phase of their relationship, so her sexual tension with Ranger is at an all time high, which I thoroughly enjoy. I wouldn't mind if the entire series was only about Stephanie and Ranger.
All in all this was yet another laugh-out-loud Stephanie Plum extravaganza. I only wish I didn't have to wait until next year for number seventeen. The good news is that a character from the Between The Plums novellas is getting his own series, the first of which comes out September 14th.